Gull Lake – 15 August 2012

This week I had a work ‘team-building’ day at a cottage in idyllic Gull Lake belonging to one of my work colleagues, Trevor. Trevor is an adept hunter and outdoorsman with a shared interest in nature, and he kindly offered to take me out the following day with him as he scouted some hunting spots in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. In the area we explored on this day, Trevor had mentioned that in a wooded area several years ago he had come across an abandoned farmhouse that was occupied by several porcupines and I said I would be very keen to see a porcupine, never having seen this mammal before. So, less than 5 minutes into our hike, we came across the dilapidated structure & after working our way, very quietly, through the surrounding shrubs and trees that were slowly but surely consuming the farmhouse we entered via the front door and lo and behold there was a great big porcupine – Trevor had delivered!  Apparently porcupines are well aware of their formidable quill defence and are relatively unafraid of larger mammals such as us, and this guy was no exception being quite content to let us photograph (with flash, as it was extremely dark in the house) him for a few minutes.

After successfully bagging our main goal for the day, everything else was a bonus from here on in. Some of the additional highlights later on the hike included some very plentiful and colourful butterflies and dragonflies, numerous frogs, and one particular bird ‘hotspot’ where there were multiple flycatchers, warblers, chickadees and even a grosbeak (lifer for me).

After 4 hours or so of hiking through fields and forest we did finally see a White-tailed Deer, so Trevor knows that there should be some game when he returns. The final entertaining end to the day came when we were crossing the final field when the occupants, a herd of cattle, showed more than a passing curiosity in our presence and chased us up & over the barbed wire fenceline! A big thanks to Trevor for a great day out & I look forward to any future such opportunities during the upcoming hunting season.

Taken on the lakeshore prior to the hike

 

 

Grand Valley Rd – June 21, 2012

Took a quick spin around one of my favourite (& most reliable) birding locations and to be honest there was not a lot of avian subjects that I could find. However, my trip was saved by the appearance of a Great Gray Owl just past the Bates J Ranch. I had severe back-lighting, but I think the shots came out ok. My goal now is to get some in-flight shots which will require some skill and a lot of luck, I feel!

Boulton Creek PP, Kananaskis, AB – 15-17 June, 2012

Off camping again, this time in the foothills and lakes of Kananaskis. While the weather did not cooperate as much as we would have liked (when it wasn’t windy it was raining), there were still some photographic highlights. A family walk down to the mouth of Boulton Creek where it flows into Kananaskis Lake yielded a very photogenic Wilson’s Warbler (lifer) who was happy to let me get very close to the willow shrub he called home.

A bike ride down to the same spot in the afternoon led to no new birds, but instead a close encounter with a young bull moose who was feeding very close to the car park and soon drew a sizeable crowd of tourists. Once again I was happy to have the zoom so as to allow me to shoot from a safe distance. Richardson’s Ground Squirrels were ever-present as well.

Our campsite also had some treats in the form of the delicate Calypso Orchid, as well as some scarlet & black ladybug-like beetles (which my daughter alerted me to!).

A Shame the weather was not better as I’m sure the wind kept a lot of the birds hunkered down out of sight. Still, I can’t complain about the shots I did get.

 

Inverlake Rd, Chestermere, AB – 9 June, 2012

Having read interesting reports of this area, I spent an hour rolling up & down the backroads scanning the fence lines around Inverlake Rd in Chestermere, AB.

Quite pleased with the variety of birdlife on offer (Upland Sandpiper, Mourning Doves, etc) and happy to get some improved Savannah Sparrow shots.

I also saw my first Wilson’s Snipe atop a fence-pole which I must admit looks somewhat odd when it’s a shore-bird type species.